My notes on the New England Revolution versus Philadelphia Union described the game as a snooze fest, a yawn-a-thon, and a contest marked more by turnovers than play makers. There are teams making moves in 2012 in MLS. The two teams that faced off in Gillette Stadium Saturday night are not among the league’s movers. There are slim, silver linings to examine, especially with a shut out, but a record setting ten games without a victory has tarnished this Revs season.
One of the bright spots of potential from this game was the play of forward Diego Fagundez. He played well coming on late in the tie with Chivas USA and with the horrible news of Saer Sene’s injury, Diego earned his second start of the season. Sene unavailable for the year hurts our team. He may have drifted into one-dimensional known quantity easy for teams to defend, but he had developed chemistry on the pitch with his teammates. Diego’s post game quote might be most telling, and a refreshing bit of accountability and honesty from the homegrown teenager who is only months out of high school. Diego said, “…I think the only thing we should have done more, Jerry (Bengtson) was doing a great job winning the first ball, and I think I should have just followed in behind to try and get the second one.” There did seem to be a missing link between midfield and Jerry Bengston, or a missing option for Jerry when he did get the ball. It would be great for Diego to find the second ball and work that big-little striker combination with Bengston.
Our goal keeper, Matt Reis had a great game. He earned that shut out. We needed him. Jay Heaps, after giving up 7 goals in the last two games, showed us an experimental backline. Our defense earned a shut out, yes. Did this defense offer us many or any conclusions, not so much. Both AJ Soares and Tierney did not dress. Soares was on Friday’s injury report, and it was clarified that he has concussion symptoms. Tierney may have been guilty of ball watching, had played in every game so far this year, and is reported to have had a knock that kept him out – though, his injury was not listed on Friday’s injury report. So, Alston shifted to left back, Lechner started on the right, while Barnes partnered with McCarthy in central defense. Lechner gets caught high up, like Alston. Lechner just doesn’t have the speed to get back if we turn the ball over while he is advancing. Alston was okay on the left, but I missed Tierney’s exchanges with Lee Nguyen.
Cardenas on the right wing did not partner with Lechner better than he has partnered with Alston. I agree with the view that Cardenas should be a late game substitute. Cardenas contributed, sure, but I’m not a fan of the spaces he leaves open as a starter. Kelyn Rowe may be the future right wing for the Revs, but he’ll have to show more consistent aggression for 60-90 minutes to grab hold of and hold onto that starting spot.
Even though I am calling for more agression from Rowe there are other Revs from whom I would like more composure. In this game against Philly, the Revs who seemed more likely to blow their top than look for the next play were Stephen McCarthy and Jay Heaps. I want accountability, yes for the refs, but moreso within the team. Just get on with it. Please don’t get distracted by complaining about missed or unfair calls, those only make a difference in the outcome when a team is not executing. Execution is something the team and coach can actually influence and the referee performance isn’t (or shouldn’t be) as high a priority as our own performance.
I still fear very few MLS teams, though Federico Higuain is rocketing up the feared opposition list. This unpalatable and record setting 10 game streak without a win is my evidence. I fear the Revs performance will have a greater influence on the outcome than our opponents. Let’s see if Diego can figure out how to play alongside Bengston. Let’s see where Toja fits. Let’s see which players deserve to be a part our plans for 2013.
In the meantime, Columbus and Higuain come for a visit on Wednesday. A shutout draw would be a great result. No free kicks for Columbus in our defensive half would be awesome. Keyln Rowe starting ahead of Fernando Cardenas would also please me. Let’s see how we perform now that we have nothing to lose.
(image courtesy of Getty Images)